Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dinner Along The Amazon

(1985) short fiction by Timothy Findley

If you like to suppose that money can’t buy happiness, you’ll find plenty of comfort here. Lots of high-society types in these stories and they’re all spun out on some dysfunction or another. Typical Findlian characters.

Those pieces here, written in first-person tense tend to contain the greater subtlety and useful insights that make Findley a writer of depth; of literature, in my opinion, rather than fiction, while those in third-person are generally lacking (not a necessary formula, by the way, or even a common one in my experience).

And then there’s this strange piece – Daybreak at Pisa – a scene from a play that is written in prose form which, granted, seemed to accomplish more than reading it in script form might have, but why describe settings in terms of stage position rather than bringing the authentic scenery to life? This either went over my head or nowhere at all.

What Mrs. Felton Knew is another radical departure. It might have been called Country Mouse Meets City Mouse - For Psychos instead. From the literary schemes referred to above we’re suddenly thrust into an Orwellian environment that is out of place in this collection in terms of content, style, scope and mood. It falls flat as a cautionary tale, devoid, it seems to me, of any link to logic or reality. It’s like he said, ‘Here’s a nasty shocking random idea! Boo!

Mind you, I could be accused of the very same crime. I sometimes bury the critical metaphor way too deep.

Otherwise, there’s enough insight into the masked confusion of modern day mentality to make this work meaningful, and enough humor, wit and charm to keep it entertaining. Skip the two pieces named above for a more efficient experience.

Image stolen from Go figure.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I'm a Timothy Findley fan, but not a short story fan. They're either boring or freak me out. (Think: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson - I hate that friggin' story.)